The Stars My Destination

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Click for availability and more information The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester
 
The best science fiction works on multiple levels; yes, it should almost always include interesting descriptions of the state of science and technology at some future (or past) place and time, along with insightful commentary on the state of mankind itself--or at least some alien species that we can all relate to in some way. And typically there is compelling action taking place. But the best of the best, I find, also works on a more personal level. There has to be something about the main character(s) of any story that draws us in and lets us identify with them, and there has to be some kind of conflict of character and an ultimate resolution of that conflict that strikes a chord within us. As I read Alfred Bester's classic The Stars My Destination (previously published in the U.K. as Tiger! Tiger!), what I initially found myself identifying with most in the character of Gully Foyle was his driving need to balance the scales between himself and a world that seemed to have gone out of its way to heap injury and indifference upon him--as I am certain that most people who have ever felt put-upon by the world will likewise relate to. But what I found even more compelling was Gully's necessary transformation from a mediocre, uneducated brute to a self-made man with iron control over his own thoughts and emotions as his quest for revenge likewise evolved from lashing out in mindless fury to flexing his intellect in pursuit of his goals. As Gully acquires intellect he also acquires empathy, and conscience, arguably prerequisites for true sentience in any species. In many stories, heroes have a tendency to become god-like in their power; in Bester's story, his main character's physical abilities are matched in turn by his mental and spiritual evolution. Not to give anything away, but Gully's quest for vengeance takes a turn that I believe makes his character superior to Alexandre Dumas' Edmond Dantès (to whom Gulliver Foyle is often compared). Give Alfred Bester's visionary classic a read for yourself and see if you agree.
-Will

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This page contains a single entry published on March 25, 2013 7:37 PM.

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